This is part of a new series called Wine Words, a glossary in the works that breaks down the barrier between those in the wine know and those who have no idea what the hell everyone's talking about. A new word will post every Wednesday and will cover anything and everything from a grape name or region, to a winemaking or tasting term. If you have a recommendation or request, please leave it in the comments.
Body (n.) Tasting Term
When we taste wine, one of the things we make note of is the weight and texture. By weight, I mean how it lays on the tongue. Is it round and creamy like half and half? Or does is it feel like skim milk? Texture, which comes from elements like alcohol, residual sugar, tannins, lees and oak, contribute to the over all "mouthfeel" of a wine, a.k.a. body. Wines typically fall under light bodied, medium bodied and full bodied qualifiers. A bone dry riesling or grüner veltliner from Austria is going to be light bodied, a California chardonnay aged in new French oak will fall under the medium bodied category, and a rich desert wine like Sauternes is full bodied. You can also sub categorize wines based on color. If we're talking whites, the Austrian grüner is still going to be the light bodied star, but the souped-up Cali chard will fill the roll of full bodied.
It helps to know which weight you like in a wine, which one you're in the mood for, or which will go best with your dinner, before selecting a bottle.